UMSL Police continue accreditation, outstanding public safety standards
The University of Missouri–St. Louis Police Department continues its outstanding track record of exemplary public safety standards by receiving extended accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
The department has also received an enhanced Certificate of Meritorious Accreditation from CALEA for 15 years of outstanding accreditation.
“It’s a huge undertaking and effort on staff; it takes everyone to undergo the review process of CALEA,” said UMSL Police Chief Forrest Van Ness. “CALEA provides a body of standard for the department. It is not a program but a philosophy of service to the community, and it takes a complete buy-in from the campus and the support of the administration. We are lucky to have that from everyone, especially Chancellor Tom George, Provost Glen Cope and Vice Chancellor of Managerial and Technological Services Jim Krueger. It’s about providing quality service to a campus community. And CALEA gives us the tools so that we can provide that environment where people can come to work, study and live in an environment free from fear of crime and harassment – a safe place.”
CALEA was created in 1979 as a credentialing authority through the joint efforts of law enforcement’s major executive associations International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Sheriffs’ Association and Police Executive Research Forum. The agency is considered the gold standard of law enforcement.
Chief Van Ness credits former UMSL Police Chief Bob Roeseler and former UMSL Chancellor Blanche Touhill for seeing the importance of an origination like CALEA. Under the pair’s direction, the department began in 1997 the three-year assessment process to receive accreditation, which was awarded to the university’s department in 2000.
“Bob was an innovator in law enforcement, and he really saw the value and importance of CALEA,” Van Ness said. “At the time, we became the 18th university in the country to become accredited, the fifth land-grant institution, and within the nine states that adjoin us, only the University of Arkansas proceed us in receiving accreditation.”
The process of accreditation and reaccreditation is long extensive. The department is examined for compliance with standards based on rigorous self-assessment and review of policies, practices and processes against internationally accepted public standards and inspections. That is followed by independent assessments with significant public safety experience and public feedback.
The UMSL Police have successfully completed the process six times. Lieutenant Marisa Smith is the accreditation manager for the department.
“The chief is very humble, and he doesn’t give himself credit for all he’s done for the department since he came here in 2010,” Smith said. “CALEA has become more of a part of our organization. He makes sure we are abiding by these standards, and he’s made it part of our philosophy as a department. And he holds us all to a very high level of responsibility to the campus community.”
The UMSL Police Department consists of 23 sworn officers including a chief, a captain, two lieutenants, six sergeants and 13 police officers.
Van Ness said that each member of the UMSL Police Department takes both their jobs and the standards of CALEA very seriously. As a small department, UMSL’s force is faced with different challenges.
“When parents send their children to school, there’s a separation component that municipal law enforcement does not have to address,” he said. “They trust us with their children. At the end of the day, family members come home, but here we have an added responsibility – we need to make sure it’s a safe environment to learn, work and live.”
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